Monday, December 29, 2014

Hey y'all!
This week has had many ups and downs. I had many opportunities to learn about discernment and how to follow the spirit =)
Skype on Christmas was fun! The allotted amount of time (49 minutes) went by super fast! Christmas didn't feel as much like Christmas this year. Maybe that was partly because we talk about Jesus Christ 24-7 as missionaries already that it was less of a reminder and more of a reinforcement =) 
Two of our investigators are so solid that it almost seems like they came right out of The District DVDs! Debbie is Ben's aunt and they both have baptismal dates for January 17th. Debbie gave up coffee so willingly this last week and Ben is giving up smoking. They both recognize the blessings that the gospel bring into their lives on a daily basis and they are very excited to be baptized! 
We went on exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders this week and it was so much fun! I got to go serve in Garland for a day! Sister Kerr served there right before being double transferred into Dallas 6 to train me. Everyone there was still talking about her and I got to brag that she trained me =) The exchange was really fun because none of our plans came out as we had planned them and we had some crazy lessons with a lot of opportunities to laugh afterwards. We also got a flat tire, it was punctured by a screw, so that was also an adventure. 
Hope y'all had a merry Christmas!
Sister Melina Lillie Jones

Christmas Day Skype

Monday, December 22, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Hey y'all!
I have settled into my new area, The Colony, pretty smoothly! This is a great area with a great ward and plenty of work for us to do! Unfortunately many of our investigators are out of town for Christmas or sick so we have had fun doing plenty of tracting. =)
Sister Terry  has been out five weeks now and I am back-up training her! It seems like just last week I was getting back-up trained, oh wait, that is because I was!!! So far it has been very humbling as I realize I have a lot to learn about love for a companion and how to serve and teach someone who is different from me. But I really do love Sister Terry and we are making a lot of progress. She is from Cedar City Utah and also just graduated from high school. 
I have learned a lot about trusting the Lord. I was a little nervous when I found out about transfers, but I am no longer nervous because I know that this is the Lord's work and so long as I am obedient, He will qualify me. 
We have nine baptismal dates, but of the nine, I am guessing only two of them are solid. Nevertheless, two solid dates is great!!!! 
Merry Christmas everyone!
Sister Melina Lillie Jones

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

New Address & Info

5936 Sandhill Circle
The Colony, TX, 75056
Her new companion is Sister Terry and she is back-up training already!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Last Day in Dallas 6th ward!!!

Hey y'all!
I am getting transferred! It came as a huge surprise to everyone in my zone, but I had kind of been feeling it for a few days and just didn't want to say anything because I didn't want it to be true! I came into this area with Sister Kerr and now I leave this area with Sister Kerr. I am so grateful that I was able to spend two transfers with her and be with her as she finishes her mission and prepares to go home. I love her so much, she has truly become my best friend (besides my family)! I light-heartedly blame her that I am leaving. In her exit interview she apparently told President Taylor that every sister should get the opportunity to serve with sister Greenall and I so of course the Lord told him to separate us as soon as possible =P Sister Kerr went around in church yesterday saying goodbye but little did everyone know that I would leave too! But I know I am needed elsewhere and I trust the Lord so I will happily leave. I have really grown to love Dallas 6 and all the members and investigators so I will really miss them! 
We had a great last week as a trio! The other night we went to an event that was going on at the park near us and Sister Kerr and I did a soapbox (we stood on a wall and addressed the whole crowd and shared a quick message) while sister Greenall passed out cards in the crowd. =) It was super fun! 
We also got to do member exchanges and teach two lessons at one time! I went out with a member to teach a Spanish lesson with a translator and sister Kerr and Greenall taught someone else. We had planned to split three ways and teach three at a time but one of them fell through. 
I got to sing at our Ward Christmas dinner with a sweet 9 year old girl who has recently decided to serve a mission because she got to go out with us =) We had 10 total investigators and less active members attend the Christmas party! Another reason I am so sad to leave the area because the work is on fire out here!
 I also get to sing at the transfer meeting tomorrow in front of the whole mission! Sister Greenall is going to sing a cool harmony part. =) 
I really appreciate the advent calendar quote thing that the Rice family sent, thanks to all who contributed to that! 
I have learned so much from this area and the missionaries and people I got to serve around =) 

Quote of the week: "how did you feel when you prayed?" -me
 "I felt like chocolate"-9 year old investigator =) 
The fruits of the spirit are sweet! =) 

Sister Melina Lillie Jones

Zone with the Blakes - Carrollton, Texas

Monday, December 8, 2014

White Christmas

Hey y'all!
Hal had a white Christmas! He was baptized Saturday! He was really nervous and didn't sleep a wink the night before his baptism or confirmation! It went perfectly though. We had an extra helper in the font because the baptizer couldn't pull him back up on his own. Hal bore his testimony afterwards about his theory of miracles, his spiritual prompting to donate crazy books to the church library, and the Spanish Inquisition. It wouldn't have been more "Hal" any other way. He was too nervous and self-conscious to get a picture before he was baptized so we have no pictures of him in white, only afterwards. It was a miracle we could even get that one! There were like 12 elders there who taught him in the past who came to support him. I don't know if I already told y'all but Hal calls me sister pinkie and he calls sister Kerr sister Bubbles because of our personalities =) 
We had exchanges this week and I got to stay in our area and drive! Driving an automatic car felt really weird since I am so used to stick shift. 
We had five investigators at church this week and a TON of less active members there as well!!! Even though there are three of us and we split up in sacrament meeting, there weren't enough of us to sit by all of them! Luckily we have some good members that we asked to friendship them. 
I was reading in 2 Nephi 29 and thought about the Book of Mormon in a new way: When people reject the Book of Mormon because the Bible is enough for them, they are saying they already have an Oreo so they do not need any milk.
Sister Melina Lillie Jones

we were sitting on fake presents and there was a fake christmas tree behind us. there are no conifers in Texas! =P

my mission vision

I wanted to send you my mission vision and what Becoming One means to me. It is what I put in my email to president Taylor this week.

So my mission vision is:

Identity: I am a rough stone, a daughter of God, and His servant

Purpose: To change, to serve God, to smooth out my rough stone, and to help others change for the better through Christ-like love

Destiny: Eternal change and progression, increased love, a larger ability to serve, the ability to give more of myself, selfless wife, mother, and teacher (for special needs), continuing to be the Lord's investigator my whole life through study, prayers, and new commitments and promises to him. 

Summed up in two words my vision would be "eternal change." Change is not always an easy process but it should be a continual one. Some people, myself included, feel uncomfortable with change sometimes, but I try to step back and realize that change is the essence of God's plan for us and it is the only way we progress. Change is repentance and I want to have a constant repentance process even if I do not have to repent for major sins all the time, I do have to improve all the time. 
Becoming one to me means that I am united in the purpose of change. The Savior's purpose on earth was primarily the atonement, so in order to become one with Him I will constantly utilize the atonement to become more like Him.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Plenty to be thankful for

Hey y'all! 
I received some great letters that made my week! (thank you weights, both grandmas, and mom) I Also got a packet full of notes from some of my favorite high schoolers! Some of the students from the special education class sent me notes that made me smile! =D Thanks Morgan Larson for getting those to me!!!!!!!!!! If you want to know how happy I was, just ask my companions.
So Sister Kerr, Sister Greenall and I had this master plan to get up at 4am on black Friday and go contact the mobs of shoppers. We even got permission to get up and leave early to do it. We got out there and found that we had a flat tire and then when we fixed the tire and got to the shopping areas there was no one there!!! people around here must not be very materialistic! We talked to one person before we headed back to our apartment and slept another 30 minutes and re-started the day. =P That one person must have really needed the card we gave them. 
That night there was a Christmas lighting ceremony in the park across the street from us and we went and talked to 339 people in that one day making our weekly contacts number 549!!!!!! That has to break some kind of record besides just my personal record. =) People are so much more receptive to the message around Christmas time, especially when we share He is the Gift (#heisthegift, christmas.mormon.org
We had a super awkward and funny lesson the other day. Sister Kerr compared the Book of Mormon to a cake (you have to try it to know it is good) and then Sister Greenall compared the frosting on a cake to something else and then I compared prayer to a sandwich (Three basic parts to a prayer) and then the investigator asked if we were hungry and then sister Greenall said "no, we are just on a roll!" 
Hal passed his baptismal interview!!! If all goes as planned it will happen this Saturday and it will be my first baptism!
Also we were let in a door while tracting for the first time on my mission! The couple was from southern Germany and they had really cool accents! 
The picture is of our commissary. We wrapped all of our Book of Mormons and pamphlets to give out as Christmas gifts! 
Sister Melina Lillie Jones
What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
if I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
yet what I can I give him:  give my heart.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The terrific trio!

Hey Y'all!
The trio is doing great! We can contact a lot more people at one time and multitask! The only awkward part is tracting, we don't want to scare people when they open the door because there are so many of us =P luckily we are not three 6ft tall elders! 
The other day we were contacting outside of Walgreens and we talked to a lady who was obviously freezing! I gave her my gloves and we prayed with her. She let us come visit her at her apartment the next day and we found that she was really interested in the Book of Mormon because she didn't like that the Bible had been translated and changed from hand to hand. By serving and loving first, then are people open to hear God's message!
We taught the family from The Congo again this week. We taught the kids an English lesson about colors using M&Ms to help them learn. It was really fun! Then we were able to teach them about the restoration. Once again, service and love first, then people are willing to hear God's message! 
We experienced a cool miracle this week with contacting (talking to everyone we see). We talked to a man who turned out to be a less active member of the church who had moved and the ward didn't have his new address so no one could find him. We found him just while contacting in a parking lot and he is ready to come back to church and wants us to teach his fiance!
Texas weather is crazy! Last week it snowed and we were freezing, this week it has been in the 60s a few days and then rain storms a few days and I am sure it will turn cold again soon. 
Sister Melina Lillie Jones

Monday, November 17, 2014

New transfer!

Hey y'all!
I am now in a trio!! I am still in the Dallas 6th ward, but now in addition to sister Kerr we also have sister Greenall! She is a very sweet girl =) Apparently Katie was her freshman mentor at BYU!
We have had to drop a bunch of our baptismal dates, but sci-fi Hal is still feeling strong about December 6th and we got another date with a woman named Tiffany for January who wants to raise her children in a good church =)
We got to teach a part member family this week who has a son with cerebral palsy. We taught them the plan of salvation and shared the scripture about bodies being resurrected perfectly. The mother of the boy with cerebral palsy was so touched with joy and the spirit to bring her to tears =) The boy is so cute! I love teaching this family!
We also visited a less active woman who is raising her grandson who is not a member. She allowed us to teach him the plan of salvation, but she would not let us bring up Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon. We talked with her alone after teaching her grandson and had a good conversation. I was prompted to ask her if she had read the Book of Mormon and she said she hadn't. We invited her to read it starting with 3rd Nephi. I think when people fall away from the church a lot of the time it may be partially because their testimony of the Book of Mormon wasn't solid. When that testimony isn't solid anything can tip them over because the Book of Mormon is the foundation of all of our beliefs. I want to be sure that my testimony in the Book of Mormon is solid so I will never leave the church.
It snowed yesterday!
Sister Melina Lillie Jones

Monday, November 10, 2014

Last week of my first transfer!

Hey y'all!
Hal has a baptismal date!!!! Hal is our sci-fi investigator who has been taught by missionaries for a long long time. His biggest concern now is whether or not we will be able to find a big enough baptismal suit =) We assured him we would take care of it. Hal has been through so many Elders so hopefully there will be a lot of missionaries coming back for his baptism on December 6th.
Last Sunday an elderly man in our ward came up to us and offered to make us really cool and valuable inscribed wooden pens. He then showed us thank you notes personally signed from Thomas S. Monson and Boyd K. Packer for making them pens. He gave them pens to us the next week =) 
We had a really cool contact this week. Saturday night we were headed into a lesson and we stopped to talk to a guy and he said we both have this warm glow about us that shows light in our faces which we thought was super cool because it was dark outside already. =) So you could say the spirit has glow-in-the-dark qualities. =) I also had a nice conversation about the church with a banker on the phone when I was calling my debit card to get them to switch it to Texas.
We had a sisters conference on Friday and we read Ether 12:27. I thought about this scripture in a new way. It says: "if men will come unto me, I will show unto them their weakness." A mission really magnifies a missionaries weaknesses and strengths. Because my weaknesses have been magnified in my eyes it means I am coming closer to Christ! In order to recognize weakness you need to come unto Christ. This makes it easier to refine the weaknesses that I wouldn't have otherwise recognized. 
President Taylor is changing when we get transfer calls to Monday night before transfers on Tuesday so I won't know whether or not I'm being transferred until tonight, but I am probably not being transferred.
Hope y'all are having a great week!
Sister Melina Lillie Jones

Monday, November 3, 2014

Dallas 6th

Last week of my first transfer!

Hey Y'all!
Sister Kerr and I had a pretty good week. A lot of appointments fell through again and we didn't have as many set up in the first place so we did a lot of finding and service. So this Sunday we decided to fast and pray for more appointments and teaching opportunities and the Lord has already answered our fast! Yesterday we made a lot of calls and our schedules were filled for the whole next week. In addition, a few members called with friends that agreed to meet with us so we got appointments from that as well! We ate dinner with a sister from the Congo and we invited her to ask a friend to meet with us by Christmas, but she pulled out her phone on the spot and called up a friend and got us an appointment within two minutes of our invitation! We have been so blessed with such a great ward! The sister from the Congo fed us whole fishes, skin, eyes and all! That is definitely the weirdest thing I have eaten so far!
We had another super cool experience when we contacted a man from India. We handed him a Book of Mormon and he immediately got goosebumps and his hand started shaking. He told us he had never felt like this before and that he will definitely check it out.
We got to carve pumpkins in District meeting! and we were not allowed to go out on Halloween night so we had a really fun Zone party. I was asked to sing for district meeting and then called and asked to sing for Zone meeting and both went well =)
Sister Melina Lillie Jones

Monday, October 27, 2014

October 27, 2014

Hey y'all!
Sister Kerr and I biked all week because we ran out of miles! our area is huge! About two days ago though some Elders from a different area donated their miles to us and they are biking instead for the last week of October before our miles start over. They were so nice and Christ-like to give up their miles for us =) 
We have more good news! The maintenance team is spraying our apartment for bugs today!!! =D 
We had most of our appointments fall through this week, but we still witness many miracles! Sister Kerr claims that the reason our appointments fell through is because she prayed to work on patience this week. So Heavenly Father answers prayers in a variety of ways. =) 
My solo in sacrament meeting went well! and not only did the investigator finally come to church that was playing piano for me but her husband came too! I also think my musical number helped with ward trust so they like us enough to give us referrals =) 
We got a 6th baptism date this week! She is a very sweet and very shy woman with a 9 year old son. 
I had a bag of Reses that I got at the MTC that my companion and I were saving for a special occasion since it is both of our favorite candy. We are also currently trying to friendship a part member family. The 11 year old daughter had a birthday and we asked her mom what her favorite candy was so we could drop it by and she said Reses so we sacrificed our Reses for her. It was a very hard sacrifice for both of us, but the Lord recognized our sacrifice!!!!!! about a week later the same girl made us two homemade peanut butter cups and was super excited to give them to us!!! =) We feel that it is one way the Lord let us know we should continue to make sacrifices for His work. 
Hope y'all are having a great week!
Sister Melina Lillie Jones

Monday, October 20, 2014

One month into the mission!

Hey y'all!
I LOVE my companion, Sister Kerr! I have been finding small ways to serve her this last week because that was one of my goals. I learn so much from her example!
This Sunday Sister Kerr and I got to speak in Sacrament meeting and teach gospel essentials. coming up with lessons really fast has gotten easier and easier. 
We had some MAJOR miracles this week! We contacted into a family of five and were able to set a baptismal date (Dec. 6th) for all five of them! There are two girls ages 8 and 10 and their mom and her brother and the grandma. They loved to hear the message of the restored gospel and the spirit was so strong! The grandma even asked why there were so many churches, but only one God. She said our answer made complete sense to her. At the end of the lesson she prayed thanking God that we came as an answer to her prayers. I can't help but think how special it will be and amazing for the ward when all five  family members are confirmed in the same Sacrament meeting.
Our second miracle was Jose. He was one of my first Spanish contacts! He said he speaks Spanish so I was able to introduce us in Spanish and invite him to hear our message. After a pause that was literally 30 seconds long (I was worried he didn't understand me) he finally said yes. Luckily he spoke and understood enough English for us to teach the restoration right there on the lawn he was in the middle of mowing. He said that he had noticed a lot of churches changing things from the way Jesus Christ had done them and that ministers shouldn't be paid. So when he heard that no one in our church is paid and that we baptize the way Christ was baptized he was really open and interested in learning more. He committed to read the Book of Mormon and to pray about it and meet with the Spanish missionaries. Everything about his demeanor was so sincere, he was truly prepared by the Lord and the Lord has blessed Sister Kerr and I so much to lead us to him and to the family of five. 
We had to drop a few investigators this week who were not progressing, but the Lord may soften their hearts over time. 
Sister Kerr and I decided to get creative with our daily contact with our sci-fi loving investigator. We drew a third eye on our foreheads with make-up and stood behind each other to add extra arms to look like aliens and we used these pictures to put a scripture on for him to look up each day. He loved the cards we left and her has been faithfully reading the scriptures every day since we started. He FINALLY turned off the twilight zone/star trek music for our lesson! 
Another miracle was Aron. We contacted into him in a parking lot and set up a time to meet with him. I invited him to be baptized at the end of our lesson and he said yes! but we had to give him to the singles ward missionaries because he is 26. 
When I have enough hope, faith, and obedience, the Lord puts so many miracles in our path and gives us individuals who are prepared!
I will be singing a special musical number in sacrament meeting next week with one of our investigators playing the piano! 
We do not have very many miles on our car so we have been biking and walking a ton the last week. Its a good thing I love biking and walking and its really flat here. I saw my district leader get hit by a car on his bike though...so I will be careful. We still don't know if he is ok or how serious his injuries are, but we are praying for him.
Last week we had 249 contacts total! and apparently most missionaries are stretching themselves to get 140 contacts in a week. We try to talk to EVERYONE even though a whole lot of people reject us. But you never know when you will run into people like Jose or Aron or the family of five. 
Everyone here is scared and talking a lot about the Ebola outbreak in Dallas. I wonder if people away from Texas have heard about that?
Our car broke down today and we thought we wouldn't be able to email or grocery shop but then a ward member miraculously got off work early and saw us and took us to the grocery store and then another member jump started our car and we drove to the repair shop and apparently the corroded battery just needed to be clean and it was done in five minutes! We were SO blessed! 
Over-all it has been a great week! 
Sister Melina Lillie Jones

Monday, October 13, 2014

Quick update - Write her!

I don't really have time to write a letter for my blog or even much of a letter to y'all so sorry!
Ill have to write a good one next week! 
I saw Chloe on the day we go to see meet the Mormons with the entire mission. My companion and I were matching! and the weather is weird one day is was suuuper hot and the next it was like 60 degree and storming. Writing letters actually gets to me faster than emails because we check the mail everyday and I don't have much email time so you can keep emailing me but id also encourage letters if possible =)
Sister Melina Lillie Jones

District - 1st Transfer

Monday, October 6, 2014

Week 1 in Texas! - Dallas 6th

Hi everyone!
My trainer is amazing! Her name is sister Kerr and she is from pleasant grove Utah. She is a BYU student and she is going to study elementary ed when she goes back in January. We laugh at all of our silly mistakes and it has just been a very positive and loving companionship! We got doubled in replacing elders that used to be here so its been an adventure trying to figure everything out since neither of us knows the area or the people. It has also been an adventure cleaning the apartment that was occupied by Elders for the last 4-6 years. 
We were asked to teach a Zone training on my second day in the field and that was kind of surprising to me, but it went really well! 
We had a very interesting appointment on my first day...Sister Kerr and I were both shot with a ray gun. This was the same investigator who played twilight zone music in the background and showed us all of his alien and sci-fi drawings. He also spoke everything like someone who was telling a horror story. He is an awesome guy! He would be baptized except he doesn't have a testimony of tithing, so we are working on that. One of our other investigators is a super sweet lady who LOVES to talk nonstop and go off on lots of tangents. She would also be baptized except she is deathly afraid of putting her head under water. We do have a baptism date with a different woman who was sooo prepared to hear the gospel! she loved general conference! We have also been visiting a lot of less active members and pulling the "we are new and just wanted to meet the ward card" (not letting on that we know they are less active) and some of them are starting to be more active because they don't want to be embarrassed in front of us for being less active.
As we were contacting in a park yesterday a man tried to bible bash us and prayed for us that our "eyes would be opened"....sound familiar anyone? 
Texas is perfect right now, the temperatures have been in the 70s. We have a car because our area is huge! It is the Dallas 6th ward and it has part of Dallas, Irving, Farmers Branch, and Addison in it. I am not in the heart of Dallas, but I am near it. hopefully I will have the opportunity to serve out east sometime in my mission. Our car has a small amount of miles allowed though so we will be biking a lot of the time as well. 
I am sure there are a lot of stories I am forgetting to tell y'all, but that's ok! I love y'all and I love the being a missionary and the people in Texas!!!
Sister Melina Lillie Jones

MTC Pictures



Monday, September 29, 2014

1st News from Dallas!

Dear Missionary Family,

We just want to let you know that your missionary has arrived in Dallas and is part of a wonderful group of 20 new missionaries today!

Attached you will see the pictures taken at the Dallas Temple as they came in from the airport.  The group had lunch on the way, and are spending the afternoon and evening in orientation and training.  They will have dinner at the Mission Home with President and Sister Taylor and their family.  Then they will stay the night with a nearby companionship, and in the morning will be introduced to their trainer.  After a little more training together, they will leave for their area and begin their work.  We will follow up with a letter letting you know where they are serving and who their trainer is.

Monday is their preparation day, so you should receive an email from them telling you about their first week in the Mission.  I’m sure you’re looking forward to that!

Thank you for sending us your missionary!  This will be a great experience for them.

Sister Larsen, Secretary
Texas Dallas Mission

Melina with Pres. & Sis. Taylor at Dallas Temple
Melina's Group - New Missionaries

Thursday, September 25, 2014


Hey everyone!
I LOVE the MTC!! The spirit is so strong here and I love that we get so much study time (sometimes even three hours is not enough!). There are three districts in my Zone. One district has 8 Elders and the other two districts have 4 sisters and 4 elders each. My entire district is going to Dallas together! we leave at 4:30am Monday morning. My companion is from Mesa Arizona and attends BYU Idaho. She couldn't be more different than me personality wise, but we both understand that we have the most important thing in common: a strong desire to serve the Lord! That is all that really matters and we love each other and work really well together despite our differences. I was called as the online coordinator for my zone in the MTC, it's a pretty easy job. I just have to be sure everyone knows and follows the computer rules.
We got to participate in the Ogden Temple dedication last Sunday. Elder Ballard gave a devotional on Tuesday night. Both events were super cool! 
My favorite part of the MTC is the TRC investigator lessons. My companion and I have an investigator that comes to the MTC everyday to learn from us for about 45 minutes. TRC investigators may or may not be members of the church, we don't know. The investigators that are members are converts to the church playing themselves before they were baptized. I am not sure if our investigator is a member or not, but because of a number of small clues we don't think she is. Our lessons with her have been amazing and completely directed by the spirit! I love her so much! Through getting to know her we have been able to help her with some of her concerns, and through the spirit bring her closer to Christ. She recognizes the spirit she feels and she LOVES to learn about the church! She agreed to be baptized after our first lesson and she prayed with us and now prays on her own all the time. I KNOW Heavenly Father loves her so much. When we told her we are leaving the MTC Monday she  was sad, but gave us her email so we can keep in touch and she is excited to learn from new missionaries in the MTC next week (we are the first MTC missionaries to teach her!!!) She was so excited about the gospel that she wants missionaries to go teach her family in Korea! She also said "why can't everyone know about this!?!" She also wants me to sing with her in our last lesson with her on Saturday (she was in a lot of choirs as well as me)! 
I know that not all of the people and investigators that I talk to in Texas will be this excited about the gospel, but hearing her excitement motivates me to bring the "good news" of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of Texas.  It is a good reminder and example for those of us who have grown up in the church to be excited about the gospel! Her awe and amazement helps me to realize how wonderful the God's plan for his children is and the attitude I should have about it instead of taking it for granted. 
I get to go and do a session in the Provo temple today! I am very excited!  
I don't have a USB chord to connect my camera to the computer and there isn't a memory card port here so I will try to send MTC pictures from Texas when I get there.
Sister Melina Lillie Jones

Monday, September 15, 2014

MTC Address (leaves by MTC Sept. 29)

Sister Melina Lillie Jones
2009 N 900 E Unit 148
Provo, UT 84602

Mission Scripture - Matthew 5:14-16

 14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Melina's Talk 9/14/14 - Agency and Accountability

Robert D. Hales said: “Agency used righteously allows light to dispel the darkness and enables us to live with joy and happiness.” Agency and accountability are gifts from God that help us progress toward everlasting joy. So how can we use our agency righteously to partake of happiness and joy?

Second Nephi 2:26 says: “And the messiah cometh in the fullness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given.” The line that really stands out to me is: “free to act for themselves and not to be acted upon.” When I read this line it reminded me of a quote I read given by M. Russell Ballard in 1983. He advised us to be creators of circumstance and not creatures of circumstance. To me this means that I need to be productive with the choices I make; I need to use my agency to progress spiritually and temporally. Not only can we choose how we will react to circumstances, but in many cases we can also influence what circumstances we get into. When we make righteous choices our freedom to progress increases. This means that, we can become closer to our Heavenly Father and attain joy. Someone who is a “creature of circumstance” is trapped without the freedom to progress because they have allowed temptation or tragedy or even just tough trials to prevent them from actively seeking to make the choices and changes that will bring them lasting happiness. Something we can ask ourselves is: ‘Am I choosing to let passivity to my surroundings stifle my progression toward Christ? Or am I actively using my agency to create an environment in which I can become more like Christ?’ I had a friend in high school that would constantly come to me to complain. I knew she needed a friend so I listened to her and tried my best to comfort her. Soon her complaints turned into verbal abuse toward me. She would call me unkind names and tell me that I would never understand because I had everything so good. I started to apologize to her because I knew she was struggling and I didn’t want her to be mad at me, soon my apologies turned into begging her for forgiveness for things I knew I had never done. I was stressed out and upset. This affected the way I treated my family at home and the amount of sleep I was getting. I allowed myself to be a creature of circumstance; instead of promptly trying to find a solution to this, I encouraged unkindness by bowing down to it. What I should have done earlier that I eventually did, was talked to my parents and gotten help instead of trying so fruitlessly to please someone at the expense of my health and relationships with family members. I didn’t create for myself an uplifting environment. In contrast, I was a “creator of circumstance” in the choices I made with my school work. My sophomore year of high school, I had an infamously difficult honors English teacher. She was very stingy with the B’s she gave out anytime someone got an A on any assignment, essay, or test it was a miracle. Halfway through the first semester many of my classmates had given up on her class. I did not give up. I went in for extra help from her several times a week and I spent hours on every assignment. I gave up a good portion of winter, mid-winter, and spring break to study for her class. My efforts paid off in the end and I received an A in her class. Junior year was even more of a struggle; I took more difficult classes and participated in more extra-curricular activities. I would be up at 1 or 2am still doing homework and shivering in a 70 degree house because my body was too exhausted to keep itself warm. I was able to rise to the challenge and make the study choices that would form the habits that would lead me to receive A’s. I never gave in to the temptation to skip an assignment or do less than my best on an essay or inadequately prepare for a test. When it came time to apply for colleges I had used my agency to become a “creator” of freedom. I had the freedom to choose to apply for and attend any college that I wanted to. This allowed me to choose a university that would let me to defer attendance for a mission, making it much easier for me to serve a mission. Being a creator of circumstance is a useful skill for a missionary to have. Missionaries have to choose to act in obedience to the mission rules and choose to devote their entire efforts to the work instead of letting their circumstance get the better of them.

                In the October 2010 Ensign Robert D. Hales said that “agency is to act with accountability and responsibility.” This means that we need to be ready to take ownership of our actions and their consequences. Each action has a consequence that can draw us nearer or push us further away from our Heavenly Father. I have strived to use my agency to strengthen my relationship with God. Accountability isn’t only about considering and owning consequences, but it is also related to keeping commitments and promises. How can we remember to consider whether or not each action and each commitment we make will bring us closer to God? I attended four years of seminary. This is a before school gospel study class that meets at 6am. I was committed to the class and I knew that the things that we studied in seminary would bless my life. I was never late to seminary once all four years. This meant that I had to leave my house by 5:40 every morning. Sophomore Year my seminary teachers challenged us to be to class five minutes early so we could be unrushed and spiritually prepared to learn. Most days I was five minutes early. I knew this was an important part of my life so I choose to take my commitment seriously. One night I forgot to set my alarm so I woke up at 5:38, brushed my teeth and was in the car by 5:40 to be to class on time. As a consequence for my choice to take seminary seriously, I was able to feel the spirit every morning and learn more about the scriptures and gospel principles that shape my life and draw me closer to my Heavenly Father. My accountability to seminary attendance will be a blessing for me on my mission. The scriptures I have memorized and studied, the spirit I have felt, and the gospel principles I have learned will be available for me to share and teach others while I serve. I will also be able to be accountable for my actions while I am on my mission and be fully committed to serve.

                In Abraham 3:24-25 Jesus Christ tells God: “We will go down, for there is space there and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell; And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them.” This reveals to us that the purpose of our lives on earth is to prove to our Heavenly Father that we will obey him. We can prove our love, devotion, and true conversion to God by choosing to do his will and live righteously through our actions. The Holy Ghost or the spirit, scriptures, and modern day prophets can guide us so we know God’s will for us personally and individually. Once we pray and study to find what God would have us do, we can use our agency to choose righteously. As girls do not have the same responsibility or pressure put on them to serve a mission I had to choose between two good options: starting college right away or going on a mission. I had to pray, study it out, weigh the consequences of both choices, make a decision, and pray again and again to be sure a mission was the right choice for me. Serving a mission is part of how I can prove to my Heavenly Father that I love Him and am willing to serve him and put his will above anything else. When I serve a mission I will choose to live on God’s agenda completely for 18 months. The cool thing about it is that it is for my own good to live on His agenda rather than my own agenda. Heavenly Father knows what is best for each of His children because He knows each and every one of us personally. When I ask investigators to live God’s commandments, I will be inviting them to use their agency to show true conversion to the Lord. Without freedom of choice--whether or not to follow Christ—we wouldn’t be able to demonstrate our conversion to the Lord.

                Agency and accountability facilitate progression when we choose to be “creators of circumstance” and own up to the consequences of every action while keeping the commitments that will bring us closer to God and more like the Savior. Lastly, the way we use our agency and accountability is how we prove to our Heavenly Father that we are devoted to him, which will lead us to salvation. So to answer the question: ‘how can we use our agency to experience happiness and joy’—we actively use agency to create joyful circumstances by being accountable to God’s will. This is my testimony, I know that we have the power to choose eternal life and choose to return to our Father in Heaven after this life. We are all God’s beloved children and we have royal potential. On my mission I hope through the spirit to teach others the essential knowledge that will help them make the right choices that will bring them to closer to Christ through His atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. I want to thank my family, friends, and all of the teachers in my own life that have led me to my own testimony and righteous choices. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.